Mechanistic models of infectious disease and their impact on public health

Justin Lessler, Derek A.T. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


From the 1930s through the 1940s, Lowell Reed and Wade Hampton Frost used mathematical models and mechanical epidemic simulators as research tools and to teach epidemic theory to students at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (then the School of Hygiene and Public Health). Since that time, modeling has become an integral part of epidemiology and public health. Models have been used for explanatory and inferential purposes, as well as in planning and implementing public health responses. In this article, we review a selection of developments in the history of modeling of infectious disease dynamics over the past 100 years. We also identify trends in model development and use and speculate as to the future use of models in infectious disease dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • infectious disease
  • mathematical modeling
  • public health policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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